Szijjarto: Hungary aims to be region’s top exporter to China

Hungary has set a realistic goal of becoming the central European region’s top exporter to China as well as China’s top investment destination in the region, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport ahead of the arrival of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Peter Szijjarto said Hungary has so far been successful in reaching the former goal. Data from the first eight months of the year indicate that Hungarian exports to China rose by 26 percent compared with last year’s export growth rate of 25 percent. The volume of Chinese investments in Hungary has exceeded 4.1 billion US dollars, Szijjarto added.

The Chinese premier will be in Budapest to attend the China-CEE “16+1” summit on Monday. Szijjarto said China and the central European countries would sign a total of 23 bilateral agreements at the summit. The public procurement tender for the revamp of the Hungarian section of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line will also be called on Monday.

Boosting economic ties with China ‘strategic goal’

Cooperation and the expansion of economic ties between China and central and eastern European countries offers clear benefits to all parties involved, the economy ministry quoted Economy Minister Mihaly Varga as saying at a roundtable discussion organised by the Sino-CEEF Fund on Sunday.

As a “highly open economy” and a part of central-eastern Europe, “which is considered the engine of growth in the European Union”, Hungary has an interest in the expansion of international cooperation, particularly cooperation with China, Varga was quoted as saying in his opening address.

It is an increasingly common view among experts that the global economy is stuck in a low-growth trap, the minister said. One way to break out of it could be by having the various national governments support economic policies that promote growth. Hungary made the decision to pursue such an economic policy years ago, Varga said.

The minister noted that in 2010, Hungary introduced a strict fiscal policy thanks to which it has been able to keep its budget deficit consistently under 3 percent of GDP over the past several years. Hungary restructured its tax system with a view to promoting growth, investment and job creation and has been successful in reducing the public debt, he added.

The country’s economic performance has confirmed that these measures have been successful, Varga said, arguing that the economy has been on a growth path since 2013 while the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.1 percent from 11.6 since 2010. On the topic of Hungarian-Chinese trade relations, Varga said bilateral trade turnover exceeded 7.1 billion dollars last year, an 8.2 percent increase over 2015. The conference was also attended by Sino-CEEF Fund chairman Jiang Jianqing and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, the organisation’s chief advisor.

Source and photo: MTI

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